Junior Cycle Science Resources

The revised Junior Cycle Science Specification has a new section: Earth and Space. The eight learning outcomes in this section cover a wide range of earth and space science topics.

Lesson activities, interactives and other student supports are listed below by learning outcome.

Earth and space

General sites for students:

For Teachers:

  • ESA Teacher notes, 6 booklets (available as pdfs or as webpages) on various astronomy /cosmology topics.
  • LCOGT (Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network) Education
  • Space Book and Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an extensive selection of online simulations, interactives and question banks for undergraduate astronomy. This is superb background for teachers and some of the topics can be adapted for use with students.
  • AstroEDU – a portal of peer-reviewed astronomy education activities.
  • UNAWE – Universe Awareness for young children, many activities can easily be adapted for Junior Cycle students. Includes a link to Space Scoop: astronomy news for children age 8+.
  • Space Awareness – Free high quality tools to inspire and engage young people in science with space. Educational resources, stories about space and careers, webinars, interviews… Includes a unique Islamic Heritage Kit fostering tolerance and inclusion for different cultures.
  • Space EU – Space science is a rich and powerful tool, providing educators a wealth of materials and inspiration.

ELEMENT: Building Blocks

Students should be able to:

1. Describe the relationships between various celestial objects including moons, asteroids, comets, planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and space

2. Explore a scientific model to illustrate the origin of the universe

  • Introductory activity: Modelling the Expanding Universe, also in the CosmicQuestEdGuide and here.
  • Cosmic Times:  Cosmic Times is a series of curriculum support materials that trace the history of our understanding of the universe during the past 100 years, from Einstein’s formulation of gravity to the discovery of dark energy. It consists of 6 posters, each resembling the front page of a newspaper from a particular time in this history, with articles describing the discoveries. The language of the articles mimics that of a newspaper from its respective era – different reading ages / teacher guides / extension materials. Lesson Plans extend students understanding though a series of practical activities.
  • The Expanding Universe can be modelled with rubber band and balloon resources. H9-Modeling_Expanding_Universe has exercise bands that can be used in place of multiple rubber bands. Cosmic Times also has a raisin bread model.
  • Big Bang Misconceptions article.   History of Cosmology article.

3. Interpret data to compare the Earth with other planets and moons in the solar system, with respect to properties including mass, gravity, size, and composition.

ELEMENT: Systems and interactions

Students should be able to:

4. Develop and use a model of Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe predictable phenomena observable on Earth, including seasons, lunar phases, and eclipses of the Sun and the Moon

5. Describe the cycling of matter, including that of carbon and water, associating it with biological and atmospheric phenomena.


Students should be able to:

6. Research different energy sources; formulate and communicate an informed view of ways that current and future energy needs on Earth can be met.

  • Energy Budget: The Universe in the Classroom Summer 2013, overview of many teaching resources and websites.

ELEMENT: Sustainability

Students should be able to:

7. illustrate how earth processes and human factors influence Earth’s climate, evaluate effects of climate change and initiatives that attempt to address those effects

  • Climate Change online lessons, superb background reading for teachers, lessons can be adapted. Originally designed for “(a) 16-19 year old students, (b) teachers at the secondary and first year tertiary levels, and (c) chemistry professionals. The materials will also be accessible to the general public”

8. Examine some of the current hazards and benefits of space exploration and discuss the future role and implications of space exploration in society.